Spend Thrift: Home Improvement Projects for Any Budget

Home improvements in key areas cover the budget gamut—from cheap fixes to smart investments.

| May/June 2011

You can improve your home's comfort and efficiency at any price point. Whether you just want to lower next month’s water bill or you’re ready to make a bigger investment in your home’s efficiency, key fixes in major areas will make your home a healthier, more delightful, less expensive place to live.

Healthy Indoor Air

Efficient homes save energy, but they can also trap in toxins. Ensuring your indoor air is healthy is a primary concern.

Cheap Fix: Stop using chemical-laden conventional cleaners, air fresheners and paints. Make sure all vents exhaust outdoors, and regularly change HVAC filters.

Affordable Upgrade: Remove carpet in favor of hard flooring and washable area rugs. Reduce the amount of formaldehyde you bring into your home by eliminating items with plywood, fiberboard and chemical finishes.

Investment: Improve your home’s ventilation system and whole-house filtration. Fresh-air exchangers (also known as heat-recovery ventilators) exhaust stale air and bring in fresh air. Whole-house fans can quickly suck stale air out of your house, but they can also depressurize homes, pulling lurking toxins out of the soil, walls or furnishings. You can avoid depressurization by opening windows while running a whole-house fan, letting in fresh air while removing stale air.

Water Conservation 

Saving water keeps bills low and helps save the energy used to heat it and transport it to and away from your house.

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